I hear people complain that organic produce is just too expensive for their budgets. Are poor health and massive doctor bills better for it?  And, I’m not just talking about conventionally grown versus organic any longer – genetically modified seed, anti-biotic and hormone use in our livestock as well as cloned meats are even scarier if you ask me. It’s time to stop spending our dollars ignorantly and wise up people!

Tatjana with lambs

What we can’t afford is to continue hiding behind comments like this while burying our heads in the sand as our food supply is bastardized beyond recognition; any more than we can afford to continue making poor nutritional choices for the sake of convenience. How we spend our dollars counts! If we boycott these dangerous crop and livestock practices, as well as all the processed, chemically laden crap on grocery store shelves – the food industry and government are much more likely to make healthier adjustments.

Making healthier choices

Likewise, if we take responsibility for our own health before it becomes a problem, we can avoid so many life-threatening diseases (diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, as well painful digestive diseases that have become rampantly common in recent years such as IBS, Celiac disease, diverticulitis). As a personal chef I come across so many people suffering in silence every month. As someone who spent  four years doubled over in agony with Crohn’s disease – I can tell you, you do not want to go there.

Organic beets

I get it – your busy, you don’t think you have time to think about it, or feel like the issue is so large “what can one person do?” It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Lean into changing your eating habits by educating yourself about the consequences of your choices, read the labels, and make your dollars count. Start eliminating some of the processed food in your diets for whole (preferably chemical, anti-biotic and hormone free) foods. Lasting change happens gradually.

We’re all time-starved these days. Trust me, I am far from perfect. If I don’t do the Personal Chef Approach™ for myself at least a couple times a month – my food choices suffer too, but as I become more aware of what is in our food, I am less likely to indulge in the wrong things. You will just start making healthier choices naturally. The PCA™ helps you find and manage the time to cook more consciously while budgeting more efficiently.

The Personal Chef Approach to saving time, money, and eating healthy

Finding a few hours on the weekend to cook with your children can be such a gratifyingly experience. Not only are you getting your food for the week made in advance while teaching them a life skill that will serve them well into the future, you are putting their math and science lessons from school to practical use while creating fond memories that will last them a lifetime.

I happen to find cooking relaxing. So if you’re single like me, concentrate on just that, blocking out all the other stressors in your world – it’s almost a form of meditation. Cooking can also be incredibly sensual. Instead of viewing it as a chore, make it a fun form of foreplay you look forward to with your mate. There are all sorts of way to make cooking fun – find yours, and your cook dates will fly by.

Or maybe gardening is more your thing? Why not grow your own organic produce in your free time? Instead of complaining how helpless you are over the situation, spend that same energy looking for ways that can improve your quality of life, the food that you eat, and the time you have to enjoy it. You will be so much happier, healthier and wealthier in the long run! What tips can you add for avoiding dollar ignorance?

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  • June 29, 2012
    10:47 am

    Jewels, you make terrific arguments for switching over to organic.

    My one reason for not doing it was simply not being able to afford it. As you know, I have a very large family.

    But putting into perspective where I would be either spending the extra money up front on the food or down the road at the doctor’s office is what I needed to hear.

    Up front at the supermarket is still cheaper than taking my family to the doctor. It’s going to get spent, just how wisely is the question.

    And most importantly, health comes first.

    You’re so right.

    This was a tremendously helpful post, thank you!

    • June 29, 2012
      10:02 pm

      Up front on great food is infinitely more enjoyable than on doctors too!

  • June 29, 2012
    11:30 am

    Cooking and being mindful of your health need to go hand in hand. I am not perfect and never will be, but learning to cook a healthy meal just makes sense. I could subscribe to a service that brings a hot meal to people who have health issues and are not able to get out easily. But, I would rather go out, pick out my own groceries and use PCA to put some healthy meals in my freezer. Setting aside a couple of Sundays each month to cook using PCA is something I enjoy. I get my groceries the day before I plan to cook and do some basic kitchen prep like getting pots I don’t always use out of the storage cabinet. Then, on cooking day, I set the radio to play some good music or grab some CD’s and then rock the kitchen. I actually look forward to these cooking days and find myself in a zen mood as I chop, cut, slice and cook. Once everything is in the oven or slow cooker, I start the first part of the clean up and line up the storage containers. Once the containers are filled and left to cool, the cooking pots and pans are loaded into the dishwasher, counters are cleaned/disinfected. It’s all a routine that becomes easier each time I have a cooking day. I’m worth the effort! And, I know that I’ve cooked up meals that I will eat, not just sniff at, eat a few bites and toss. That is being wasteful, far better for me to be involved and cook my own meals. Plus, it’s an activity that keeps me motivated just by the fact that I know what I’m cooking is far better than any frozen meal I might buy. I’m still a work in progress, I need to get my chopping skills more consistent, but I’m learning. That’s the wonderful thing about PCA, you learn as you go and as you say, as long as you can read, you can cook! No truer words have been spoken that could motivate me into the kitchen. I hope this post gets a lot of attention and gets posted on a lot of staff bulletin boards in the office. It just might make more people think about what they are cooking tonight. Thank you, Jewels!

  • June 29, 2012
    10:05 pm

    Ruthee you seem to always approach it all like one huge adventure – I am always so inspired by your lust for life!

  • June 30, 2012
    8:50 am

    Organic local produce pays back in so many ways… health, taste, environment and the local economy. I’ve bought produce from the supermarket only to have it be close to rotting vs a bit extra for local organic and have it maintain it’s freshness not to mention the lack of chemicals. Julie Anne… there have been several posts on the facebook, pintrest etc about how to tell what kind of food it is via a code on the produce… supposedly tells organic from regular and GM food. Is that true?

  • June 30, 2012
    9:06 am

    I bought a home for my children and I a year ago. This summer we planted our first garden. I had fruit trees put in last year. We used certified organic seeds, and home remedies that are people, pet and environmentally safe as pest deterrents (including a fake owl by my trees and netting. They work! We are now enjoying the literal fruits and vegetables of our labor! It is really fun for all of us to plant and maintain!!! They help me weed and water, pick the fruits and veggies, etc. 🙂

    My BFF is going to do a small garden and some container gardening I showed her on-line that uses inexpensive gutters attached to a side wall of the house. They just bought a new home this year and she will also be putting in fruit trees. I may be putting in one of the gutters at my home for herbs.

    Great post and so true!!!! As one who suffers from allergic reactions and sensitivities to pesticides and GMO foods, planting my own garden has been a life saver. I saw a picture the other day that said, “What if everyone took their lawns and grew their own food?”. Ok, so not everyone will go that far…but what about a portion of it, especially when one is only using it as ornamental landscaping?

    Hugs!!! Thanks for always encouraging people to be healthy and take care of themselves, Jewels!

    • June 30, 2012
      9:53 am

      Simone, I saw your facebook post about the first tomatoes out of your garden and how good they tasted! So worth it. I find too that since PCAing and following Jewels’ advice the kids even notice the taste of organic vs ‘regular’ food and are more willing to try if it’s organic

      • June 30, 2012
        11:12 am

        You have inspired me to get off my duff, and start learning how to grow my own produce by next summer.

      • June 30, 2012
        11:28 pm

        Yay!!! Let me know how I can help! Xo

    • July 1, 2012
      3:18 pm

      I just wish our soil was more conducive to gardening… despite all the rain we’ve had this weekend we’re still technically in a drought. It’s going to take some work to reclaim part of our backyard if I expect anything to grow. I wish we had the space for a greenhouse!

  • June 30, 2012
    9:07 am

    If produce is organic it will be labeled that way Rachel, but it is still best to ask the grocer where it was grown (some countries do not require the same soil standards as others), but unfortunately GMO foods do not have to be labeled, so it is harder to know. Having said that – the public is becoming more aware as more reports and articles are published on the subject, so if a product is GMO Free, that is a strong selling point, therefore many vendors will label their food so. As for bar codes – I haven’t read up on that, but I would say labels are not only more important – they are easier to read anyway.

    • June 30, 2012
      10:58 am

      They did pass an ordinance at least in CA about having to label GMOs according to my close friend who works for CA Dept of Ag and a former Ag Commissioner. However, she says, it is yet to be enforced. :/ (It’s like sustainability not being implemented…implementation means monitoring, monitoring means money to pay people, and our state is broke.)

      Rachel we now have tomatoes, two types of squash, green beans, pea pods…broccoli about to flower, spinach coming in, onions. Already picked our apricots and plums, peaches should be ready in about 2-3 weeks. Melons flowering, and going to have tons of lemons & oranges! I agree it’s awesome for them to taste real, fresh-picked, ripened fruits and veggies. The kids love them, and can completely tell the dufference.

      • June 30, 2012
        11:11 am

        I reckon being involved in the planting and growing makes kids twice as likely to WANT to eat their fruit and vegetables, and there is no comparison to the flavor of vine ripened and freshly picked to the table.

      • June 30, 2012
        11:32 pm

        I so agree! Now they know what a REAL tomato tastes like! 😉 Everything just has more flavor, veggies are sweeter and more robust. They love helping me pick what has grown and also love weeding the beds! (They are great at getting the roots! Not bad for 6 and 4! That’s not slave labor, right? If they enjoy it?) 🙂

  • June 30, 2012
    10:36 am


    Love the first and last photos the most. Thank goodness we have in you, a leader in the food world to continue to encourage those people who eat (everyone eats don’t they?), to make informed decisions before buying the wrong types of foods.

    Cooking and bulk food preparation is so beneficial. I find it is much easier to reach for a baggy of peeled and sectioned vegetables, in order to combine my meals faster. Also, by working in this manner, we have more time to enjoy a well prepared meal. Another benefit is using less energy in a time-repeating process easier done en masse.

    Wonderful weekend!

  • June 30, 2012
    11:16 am

    Thank you Theresa, and I couldn’t agree with you more – the Personal Chef Approach™ is an integral part of how you can make eating whole food a realistic proposition in our modern days’ crazy time constraints. It really does offer a solution to so many of todays challenges.

  • July 1, 2012
    5:03 am

    Hi Jewels! I love your post and your attitude. Having suffered from IBS for years and finding it was made worse eating conventionally grown veggies (ie. Chemically grown!) I decided to grow my own organic food at home. Thanks so much for linking to my video about my gardening course in the last paragraph. I think we have a shared vision to empower and encourage people to take charge of their health and diet. It’s such an important message in this day and age. I’m so happy to have connected! I’ll stay in touch. xx Nicola

  • July 1, 2012
    8:22 am

    Nicola – you are throwing all those people that can’t afford organically grown produce a lifeline! What you are doing is setting such a great example, and showing us all what is possible and how to do it.

    Once I get my new website launched, and hopefully have an hour or two freed up a week – I plan to make full use of your fabulous advice.

    I feel like I have found a kindred spirit that really does care and want to help people through the maze of eating healthy, and hope we can work together more in the future.
    I love that we are literally a whole world apart, yet share a common goal.

  • July 2, 2012
    11:37 pm

    Gardening assumes that you have a house. I have never owned or rented a house. It would be nice to find alternatives for people who live in apartments/flats, who don’t have a backyard or patio to grow their own food. I did used to grow a few herbs in a rectangle box but it was all I had space for 🙁 I suspect, since many people have lost their homes due to the economy, and have moved into rented apartments this is the case for many. Suggestions?

    • July 3, 2012
      6:56 pm

      There are some great books out there on container gardening and growing things in the space you have…one I know of is called the “Edible Balcony”, they have tips on how to grow things from your balcony, window boxes and deck…maybe this will help…:-)

  • July 3, 2012
    6:59 pm

    Hi Jewels: I love what you said about cooking with your children. I can attest that it does work…My daughter has some learning issues and her teachers actually recommended cooking with her to help her apply her skills in real life and it has helped her tremendously! And it makes our time together memorable and special for both of us. 🙂